Having discovered the morose village of Barovia and the death of its burgomaster, the party performed some reconnaissance of the community. Having agreed to deliver the burgomaster's remains to the church for proper rites and burial, the party ran afoul of a strange hag. Seemingly selling confections door to door, the party witnessed the hag take physical possession of a child from his parents, "to settle a debt," as the hag told it. The party intervened and the hag reluctantly yielded the child to their care — but not before the barbarian claimed one of the confections, which the hag proclaimed eerily as a debt that would come due. Perhaps more disturbingly, she claimed that she sold her goods and settled her debts with the sanction of the lord in the castle on the crag.
The party returned to the burgomaster's estate and left the child Lars in the care of the burgomaster's surviving daughter Ireena Kolyana as they left to bring the corpse to the church. At the church, however, they discovered that the congregation had lost much faith in its sanctuary, and the resident priest, Father Donavich, had a more immediate problem in the form of a screaming maniac confined beneath the building itself. The party could hear the maniac howl his hunger, but the priest was reluctant to tell them much about it or grant them access. Donavich did suggest they make contact with the burgomaster's son Ismark, who could be found at a tavern, and — if they truly sought to right the wrongs of the land — travel to the Abbey of St. Markova, where they would potentially be able to claim a relic that could be used against the devil Strahd.
The party made Ismark's acquaintance at the Blood of the Vine tavern, but a questionable trio of patrons encouraged them to take their leave. In their explorations, they also discovered the merchant Bildrath, whose mercantile seemed to have a monopoly on local sundries, which Bildrath exploited to great personal gain at the expense of the villagers. Things grew heated, and violence erupted. The party was dealt a drubbing by Bildrath's bodyguard Parriwimple, and the session concluded with them retreating to the church in defense. The rogue, having struck a critical blow upon Parriwimple from the shadows of the shop, had been beaten down, and was at death's door….